How do I nicely say, ah, your dog, which is at our house, is not welcome at our house?
August 16, 2011 12:30 AM   Subscribe

We have some friends staying with us tonight. They’ve just texted me to say they’re here, and they’ve brought their dog and they hope that’s OK. It’s not OK. How can I gently and tactfully communicate that I’m cool with it this time, I guess, seeing as it’s here, but would prefer the dog stay outside during this visit and that future visits are pet free?

If they had asked me before setting off, I would’ve said no. But they didn’t and have driven hundreds of kilometres with the puppy. These are really nice people. They’ve been awesome and super hospitable about having us stay at their place in the past, and we expect to stay with them again. Also, well, I like them and do not want to take the hardline option of saying, “Hey, you should’ve asked, no, puppy not welcome, take it elsewhere”.

Yes, I know they've done the wrong thing by bringing the dog without asking, but my aim is not to rub their noses in it, rather to make them welcome, while gently and firmly drawing a boundary for this and future visits.

How can I tactfully communicate “OK, this time seeing as you’re here, but puppy needs to stay outside. And next time, no puppy.” Possibly relevant background: The puppy is, I think a Pomeranian. If I have the breed wrong, it’s definitely a small dog, rather than say a Doberman. In its own home it’s an indoor dog. They’ll be staying in a little flat attached to our house. It’s carpeted. We do have a huge backyard. Which I’m not at all keen on having a dog run around in, but would prefer to it being in the house. Is it even OK for a small dog to stay outside during winter? Is it awful to expect an indoor dog to stay outside for a few days? The temperature where I am can go as low as 5C overnight. (I’m in Australia, it’s winter here, and I’m in a fairly cold bit of South Australia.) There are no boarding kennels or anything where I live, in a remote area of the state, so can’t ask them to put it in a kennel and it’s way too far for them to go home. Argh. If it matters why I don’t want the dog in the house, I don’t mind dogs in other people’s houses, but am really not a dog person and really really am very uncomfortable with having a dog in my house. Help!
posted by t0astie to Human Relations (50 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Would they get the point not to do it again if you just insisted that the dog stay outside during this visit? It's like those people who automatically bring their children to children-inappropriate events...
posted by ryanbryan at 12:35 AM on August 16, 2011 [6 favorites]

If you put an inside dog out for the night it will whine an cry all night and keep you all awake.

When you visited these friends was there a dog in the home? If so, that is likely why they thought it was OK to bring the dog. At this point your best bet is to ask them to try and keep the dog outside since "I am uncomfortable with pets inside the house" and then gracefully give in and let them bring it inside when it whines. They will not bring the dog again.
posted by LarryC at 12:41 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

First: You definitely have a right to be angry and what they're donig is shitty - to you, and probably to the dog.

Now: I owned a pomeranian for a long time (14 years). He was an all-inside dog, and would have FREAKED THE FUCK OUT if he had been suddenly put in a strange backyard with no human contact, especially in such cold temperatures. He also would have yapped to high heaven until he was brought inside. Do you know how soul-crushing that is?

As much as it sucks, if you want to remain friends with them and stay with them at some point, express your disappointment for them changing the plan, but let the dog stay inside. If the dog causes damage, hold them responsible for fixing/cleaning it. Warn them of this upfront.

Or better yet, give them the following choice:

1. Dog outside the whole time -OR-
2. Dog inside but they assume responsibility for anything damaged/peed on/chewed/etc.
posted by guster4lovers at 12:44 AM on August 16, 2011 [5 favorites]

As someone who once tried to host a poolside bridal shower only to have the bride's sister unexpectedly bring three golden retrievers that ruined the day by repeatedly jumping in and out of the pool and soaking guests, tables and decorations you have my sympathy and support about unwanted dog guests however 5C is too cold for an indoor acclimated dog the size of a Pom to be outdoors all night. Also, tiny dogs tend to be yappy dogs and more likely than not, that little guy is going to be barking all night if he's not indoors with his owners. I can tell you now that very little is more ear-piercing than a small dog yipping at 5 second intervals for hours on end.

So, if it's at all possible suck it up for this evening and tomorrow tell them you're terribly sorry but the dog needs to stay home for future visits. You might lose your guests right there.

Hopefully the dog is crate trained. If it is, being in its crate in the flat will be less obtrusive than it roaming your yard.
posted by jamaro at 12:45 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "oh, we are so glad to see you, but I am not really comfortable having animals or dogs in my house. Since leaving little snowflake dog outside will not work, let him inside this one time, but please see to it that he does not soil anything. How was the drive? You must be famished. Drink or food?"
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:48 AM on August 16, 2011 [15 favorites]

5C!? That's risking sickness/death territory for a dog like a Pomeranian, that was never meant to stay outside at all.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 12:51 AM on August 16, 2011 [9 favorites]

For us Fahrenheit people the overnight temperature (5C) is 41 degrees. I think it would be unbelievably cruel to have a Pomeranian outside overnight exposed to 41 degree temperatures. Especially a puppy.

Yes, it was really, really, really wrong of them not to ask if it was okay to bring the puppy. I am absolutely with you there.

And I would hope I would never do such a thing myself. Here's the thing though. IF I did do that for some unknown reason, and if it was between keeping my small-breed puppy outside all night in weather that cold, or leaving, I would leave, no question at all.

And I would wonder what your reason was for not wanting the dog in the house. Yes, you're perfectly 100% entitled to draw your boundaries in your house and set whatever rules you want and that was totally valid. But honestly, in this situation, I would wonder. Being uncomfortable about even having a puppy in your *yard*... comes off as just... to be perfectly honest, like anal or neurotic or something. And if I turned around and drove a few hundred k back home feeling like you caused that by being anal and neurotic over a puppy (which is completely unfair to feel as it was their fault in the first place, but people will feel what they feel), I would be rather upset.
posted by Ashley801 at 12:51 AM on August 16, 2011 [5 favorites]

Just want to add -- please don't make the dog suffer just because its owners were thoughtless and inconsiderate. It really is not an exaggeration to say that the dog could die in that weather, and even if it doesn't, it will suffer badly.
posted by Ashley801 at 1:00 AM on August 16, 2011 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Poor puppy! Unhappy as I am with the situation, I would never, ever do something that was cruel to an animal, so the outside thing is of the table. As far as why I don't want the dog in the house: while I don't hate dogs or anything (puppies are cute, and I'm sure this one is adorable) I really, really dislike some of the things that go hand in hand with dogs - dog hair, dog poo in the yard, messes on the carpet, yapping, sniffing, licking, jumping. I'm not neurotic about it to the point where I avoid dogs in the street or in my friends homes, but I'm pretty unhappy about the prospect of those things in my home, especially without consultation.
posted by t0astie at 1:03 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry, not to threadsit, but just to clarify the friends are a couple. We stay at the house of the bloke half of the couple. The dog is the girl-half's puppy. She has her own house, where the puppy lives. We have not stayed there.
posted by t0astie at 1:08 AM on August 16, 2011

Best answer: I love dogs and can think of multiple reasons why I wouldn't want a dog that's not my own (used to my rules and the environment) in my house or yard. Fear of annoying my neighbours when a dog is put in a strange environment, separated from his owners and yaps nonstop. Not wanting the dog to dig up my garden out of boredom or chase my cat, or destroy what's out there. That's off the top of my head. Inside the house, allergies, fur, destruction of property, doggy 'accidents', the fact that my couches are white, pomeranians have a possibly unfair reputation of being yappy, bitey little things and she may not want to take the risk of getting bitten... the list goes on and on.

At the end of the day her reasons don't really matter, it's her house and she doesn't have to justify why she doesn't want an uninvited dog there. I agree unfortunately she will probably have to just deal with it this time but I would politely make her feelings known that this is a one off concession made to good friends and the dog is expected to be on its best behaviour. Buy the dog a dog treat, make everyone comfortable and ride it out.
posted by Jubey at 1:10 AM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I think you've been put in an unfortunate situation, either due to their oversight (they genuinely didn't even consider that it may be a problem) or sneakiness.

That being said, you understand that there are very few options available to you now. Keeping the dog outside is potentially dangerous, and could potentially cause a rift in the friendship. I think the best course of action is to do the best you can to be a gracious host - there is little to be gained on this particular trip, so do what you can to bear it this time around (perhaps ask that it stay in their flat, not the larger house) and otherwise let it go.

Next time around, you could make it more explicit how you feel about dogs in the house (not that you needed to this time - they really should have checked first), but for now I think you should aim to be the gracious host that puts the comfort of their guests ahead of their own.
posted by twirlypen at 1:13 AM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Just popped back in to add, is it a possibility that the dog can spend the night (it sounds like they're only staying for the night, not a whole weekend?) in the laundry and off the carpets if that's a concern? Once the owners go to bed, they can pop the little guy in there with blankets and a toy, settle him in and hopefully everyone will be happy.
posted by Jubey at 1:26 AM on August 16, 2011

Response by poster: They're staying for four nights. Sigh. Inside the main house is not an option - it's almost door-free, open plan. I can cope with the dog (who is blameless in all of this!) being in the flat and will buy a dog toy (awesome idea for softening the blow, thank you) and be welcoming. But if anyone has any suggestions about how I can actually word the bit where I have to tell them "You're welcome, but, yeah... next time, no", I'd be really super grateful. I need a script!
posted by t0astie at 1:37 AM on August 16, 2011

"Sorry, I'm not comfortable with you bringing your dog. I wish you had asked first. Here's the number of a local boarding kennel you can use during your stay..."
posted by Sockpuppets 'R' Us at 1:39 AM on August 16, 2011 [8 favorites]

If the dog is crate trained, and they've brought the crate, the whole experience may not amount to much more than having a "dog in a box," in a bedroom in your home, for a few nights. Little chance of mess, hair, or misbehavior from a crate trained dog, hanging out in his crate, whose taken outside for walks at regular intervals. I'd wait and see if they brought a crate, before making an issue of it.
posted by paulsc at 1:41 AM on August 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

Hey Beryl, so glad you could come with Bruce. I've bought some special liver treats for Rover. Are they ok for him to eat? I want him to feel as comfortable as possible while he's here. To be honest, I'm not super comfortable with dogs and I would never choose to have one here. I'm just not a dog person. But I'll try to do my best to make him happy this time.

I'm really hope you won't think I'm completely neurotic for asking you to keep him home next time. He is really adorable, I just prefer to keep my home pet-free.

Actually, maybe I have a friend who could dog sit at their house if you can't board him somewhere else when you next come to visit. Would you like me to make some

Again, I'm sorry to be so anxious, it's something I need to work on. So...about those liver treats...
posted by taff at 2:15 AM on August 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

This time, I would say something like "The carpeting in there is newish and I'm feeling surprisingly protective of it. I don't know much about puppies and I'm a little paranoid about the damage they can do. Can we make sure the puppy doesn't get left inside unsupervised while you're here?"

Next time a visit is being planned say, "I have a special request. Would you mind leaving Fuzzybutt at home? Yeah, it's just that... well, I'm realizing that I'm really not a dog person and would rather not have one around if it's avoidable. I know it's a pain, but I'd really appreciate it."
posted by jon1270 at 2:15 AM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Can I just chime in here - and I'm happy to be corrected if I'm wrong - that Aussies don't generally crate their dogs. (Unless they're pigdogs, and I'm fairly sure that there isn't a Pomeranian alive which has been trained to be a pigdog.) I've never come across a crated dog in my life which wasn't on the back of a ute, ready to be breast-plated and rip the throat out of a wild animal.

Hopefully, Ashley801, you would have the good manners to ask your hosts if it was okay to bring your dog, before you brought it along for a 4 night stay and then stalked off home in a huff when your hosts said, "look, nothing personal but we would prefer not to have a dog in the house".

If they're good friends you should be able to say something along the lines of Sockpuppets 'R' Us's suggestion: "Sorry, I'm not thrilled about having a dog inside. Yeah, he's very cute but I'm just not a dog-inside-the-house kinda person, ya know?".

However, since the girlfriend didn't have the manners to ask first, it might go down badly no matter how you word it. I'm also wondering if you became friends with both of them at the same time, or if you were friends with him first and then got the girlfriend when he got the girlfriend? Is he the kind of guy to whom you can quietly say, "look, not thrilled about the dog staying over but we're sucking it up... but we'd appreciate it not happening again".

posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:20 AM on August 16, 2011 [11 favorites]

That goddamned small thing gets buggered up every time. Or is it some sort of Pomeranian conspiracy?
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:21 AM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

Don't buy him a toy by the way. You can never know what toys digs like. Snacks are good. And maybe an old towel or blankie as a show of hospitality.

The trick is to make him every bit as comfortable as any human, water, bed. Then they known that you're the problem and not their beloved pooch. 'Cause, like uninvited toddlers, it's a can of worms to word an invitation uninviting a dog.

Good luck possum! ( It's not Julia and Tim, is it?)
posted by taff at 2:21 AM on August 16, 2011

You can certainly insist that the dog stays outside or gets sent to kennels and that they don't bring it again. No matter how you word it though, you're risking them thinking you're the kind of person they don't really want to be friends with in the future. Or you can suck it up, play with the dog and chances are things would be hunky dory.
posted by joannemullen at 2:23 AM on August 16, 2011

I'd keep an open mind; it may be fine.

I would suggest you don't mention not to bring Sweetie Darling Puppy until the end of their visit (if you say something when they get there people may feel weird), and if you'd like to ensure the puppy doesn't come again, you could just tell them how much you enjoyed their visit but ask that next time they could find another place for the dog.

But it could be fine and you may realize that you don't need to say that at all and having the dog there was actually cool.

So I wouldn't say anything upon their arrival. And dog treats are a nice idea.
posted by kinetic at 2:25 AM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Good point...we crated our dog Stacey. But that's because the breeder told us that it was in the dog's best interest. I don't know of any other non-breeder that does crate their dog here. Awkward turtles all round, really.
posted by taff at 2:25 AM on August 16, 2011

While I don't necessarily think you should leave saying something until they're leaving, I agree there's not much to be gained by saying it right at the start of the visit. At least let them get settled in first; otherwise it might look like you're expecting them to volunteer to turn around and go home again. Bringing it up in conversation in a more relaxed way, once the dog is safely in the flat, might be a better way to handle it.

(And malibustacey9999, not sure where you got the 'no crating in Australia' thing but I think that's a big generalisation - my dog-owning friends are big fans of the crate.)
posted by impluvium at 2:28 AM on August 16, 2011

Best answer: I'm the opposite. I'd say something up front, then make the entire visit a deliberate show that I was in no way weird, that I was kind to the dog, and that I wanted to stay close friends.

I'd want to make sure it was all worked out over the time they were with me. Rather than returning home and doing the friendship salvaging over the phone.
posted by taff at 2:30 AM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

Can you restrict the dog to tiled areas of the house? That would limit the danger of damage to carpets.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 2:36 AM on August 16, 2011

Best answer: I agree there's not much to be gained by saying it right at the start of the visit

I, on the other hand, would: the dog is there as a fait accompli, on sufference. Set the boundaries at the start, not least because otherwise any ongoing restrictions/reactions to the dog are likely to come off as weird passive-aggressive nonsense.
posted by rodgerd at 3:05 AM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

"Hello goggie! What a cutie you are! I'm so happy to meet you! Friends, I have found the perfect kennel for him. It has great reviews. I tell you what, since you're tired from the drive, we can take him there in the morning. Just one night won't hurt, will it, goggie?"
posted by tel3path at 3:28 AM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I'm off to get a doggie treat and then home to do my best impression of gracious and welcoming while my partner has A Quiet Word. Malibustacey999 has it about the situation - friends with bloke who has acquired puppy-owning girlfriend. Honestly, they're both lovely and crucially, I don't think they would be offended by someone turning up on their doorstep with a dog, so will be hard for them to imagine it's a problem for someone else.
posted by t0astie at 3:35 AM on August 16, 2011

How about just saying:

You know, if you'd have asked time ahead of time I'd have said no --- but let's make the best of it this ONE time...
posted by vitabellosi at 3:54 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

We are crazy about our dogs and they live in our house, sleep in our bed, etc. We don't allow them into our guest room because we sometimes have visitors that are allergic to dogs, and we want them to have a comfortable stay if they come see us. It's entirely reasonable not to want dogs in your attached flat, even if you were absolutely loony about dogs.

Diplomacy isn't my strong suit, so I don't know if you'd want to say anything like the above at all, but it might be handy to keep in the back of your mind, even now that your partner has already had the Quiet Word.
posted by galadriel at 4:57 AM on August 16, 2011

If this is a "comes everywhere with me" dog, they (particularly she) are unlikely to visit you again.

The dog is treated as a member of the family and the owner will resent the fact that it isn't welcome at you house, no matter how you couch this.
posted by davey_darling at 5:17 AM on August 16, 2011 [5 favorites]

bathroom or kitchen restriction (i.e. tiles/hard floor). I would not let a Pom stay outside in that weather. And I would definately tell these people in a nice way they should have asked and you're not cool with it.
posted by stormpooper at 6:06 AM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Several people seem to have missed this bit:
There are no boarding kennels or anything where I live, in a remote area of the state, so can’t ask them to put it in a kennel and it’s way too far for them to go home.

So it seems like kenneling is not an option, either on this or future trips. All the more reason to make sure things are clear up-front about this not happening again.
posted by bookish at 6:09 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would buy a bottle of enzyme cleaner (in the States we have Nature's Miracle, but I'm sure you can find something similar if it's not available where you are) and keep it out in the open. It really helps to clean up any "accidents."
posted by radioamy at 7:02 AM on August 16, 2011

To your buddy - "I wish you'd have asked ahead of time about bringing the dog, very sorry but I'm not actually comfortable with that. I know you'll think I'm weird or something, but I'm really not a fan of dogs, especially inside my house. But you're all here now and most welcome to stay as planned, of course. Would you terribly mind asking Girlfriend to just keep the dog inside your flat during your stay, and not let her run around the whole house? I'd appreciate that very much."

After that there will probably be some discussion on why you have a problem with dogs, in which you can say you are really not an animal person, and you don't like the noise, the mess, the licking/jumping/scratching etc, and all that sort of stuff, and really think animals belong outside. But you realize that the dog is like family to your girlfriend and you wouldn't dream of asking her to keep this inside dog outside, especially since it's wintertime. So please keep the dog in the flat, but there's a lovely park she can take the dog to play in [just down the street], and we've got some old sheets you can put down on the furniture for the dog hair. Thanks for being understanding!
posted by lizbunny at 7:06 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

The one drawback of the plan guster4lovers suggested - i.e. dog is either outside/restricted/crated or else any damage is paid for by them - is that chances are very high that there won't be any damage. Not real damage, as precious snookums can go 4 days without peeing on or chewing up something. But even when there's no damage there are still signs. Hair. Faint doggy smell. One little scratch that you don't even notice but if the dog stays there a few times the floor just ages faster. Hair that turns up a month later after you've already vacuumed most places twice.
But look! We had the dog with us, and it was okay, we compromised - OP wasn't really happy about it and laid down some rules, but dog stayed and nothing went wrong, we stayed within the rules, there was no damage, so we'll come visit again and bring our rule-abiding dog!
It's a 3-step process:
1. lay out the rules at the beginning (and those are your best guess for rules, because since dogs NEVER STAY HERE, you just wouldn't know exactly how's best to handle it, would you?)
(1.5 - dog is there, try to relax, fussing constantly won't do anything but stress you, them, and it out)
2. Saying goodbye at the end of the visit. Presumably things went fine, but your message is that not destroying anything doesn't mean "no problems, let's do this again!". Script would be: praising the dog for no egregious errors; expressing how you can see why she likes her dog so much, but gosh it's not for you; a dog in your house, hey wasn't this novel and out of the ordinary; nothing's broken and with one day of solid cleaning things will be more or less back to normal, gosh couldn't handle doing that all the time, you cute little stinker, go home and shed on someone else's sofa; love you guys, drive safe, I'll call you soon!
3. Then to some extent, you can let it go. Your friends live hours from you, and they won't be showing up on your doorstep without specifically making plans together. When you next plan on getting together, that's when you specifically bring up "so hey, is it going to be possible for Mary to leave Fang at home this time? Even though nothing major went wrong last time you visited, it did take me some time to get everything cleaned up and put back to normal after you guys left. I know you guys would have reimbursed me if anything had gone way wrong, but honestly it really stressed me out to know that that was even a possibility, and I would be so much happier and relaxed if there were some option that didn't involve his coming with you." I'd bring this up pretty early on, before you're even picking which dates - finding a kennel or a dogsitting friend is not trivial and could affect which weekend is best or other aspects of planning.
posted by aimedwander at 7:26 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

My SO is severely allergic to most cats and dogs. Most of our friends are aware of my SO's allergies but some (especially the out-of-towners) might not be, so if they were to show up with a dog, we unfortunately would not even be able to let it through the front door. Fortunately, you don't have the allergy problem, but there still is the issue of the smell, the fur (and possibly other "leavings") to be cleaned up, the dog getting into things while the household is asleep, and having to doggie proof the house (looking around my apartment right now and there are tons of things I wouldn't have out in the open if I had a canine guest).

Honestly, they're both lovely and crucially, I don't think they would be offended by someone turning up on their doorstep with a dog, so will be hard for them to imagine it's a problem for someone else.

You need to be kind but firm with your friends. They made a pretty big assumption about what is acceptable in YOUR living space without consulting you first. And as so many AskMe answers before have stated on various subjects, you need to say NO, this is NOT okay. You are not obligated to give an explanation. "We're worried Fido will do some damage" might result in a response like "Oh, that's no problem, Fido is PERFECTLY house trained!" Just keep that in mind when crafting your response to them.
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:38 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: So the dog won't actually be staying in your house, but in an adjoining flat? What is the space generally used for, guests or rental or something else? I don't think it should be too hard to tell them politely (for future reference) that you don't usually allow pets there. Chalk it up to preserving the carpet, or occasional guests with allergies, or whatever. You don't even have to make it a case of personal preference.
posted by torticat at 9:00 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

For the duration of this visit, consider this: it's a microdog. It pees teaspoons and poops pellets (well, I've seen a tiny dog take an enormous dump, but I don't think they're all like that). It probably spends a good deal of time on a human. It is the least amount of dog greater than zero dog. I doubt you'll have more than a little hair on your things (when I had long hair, I would shed more than a pomeranian), and you probably don't need to bring in a carpet cleaning team with gallons of enzyme cleaner.

You're right that they should have asked (what if you were in the middle of a seasonal outdoor flea infestation or just had some kind of yard treatment that might be bad for a dog to be exposed to?), and you're right to tell them it's not actually cool but there's nothing to do for it this time, but you also don't need to tense yourself for a scene of massive devastation. Unless, of course, it freaks out when left alone in the flat while the humans visit you in your dogless house. Personally, I'd let them bring the dog with them and keep it on laps.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:41 AM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oh, man, I am so with you on this. I don't like pets, and when I tell people that they tend to react like there must be something deeply wrong with me - I have found that many pet people simply do not stop to consider that other people might not want to deal with their pets.

I think you have the right idea, but make sure that when you explain this to them, or when your partner does, that you don't give a lot of specific reasons why you don't like dogs, or portray it as a problem with you that you're trying to fix. That opens the door to future negotiations, where they ask you if you're over your weird dog aversion, or try to rebut your points (they understand you don't like dogs, but surely you can't resist their dog). "I don't like having dogs in my house" should be the only explanation required - it is your house, after all.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:59 AM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

It doesn't sound like this is an option, but can you have the whole lot stay at a hotel? Here in the states there are a couple chains that accept dogs, and not just high end ones. You can split the cost. I bet that someone so attached to their pet that they didn't even ask if they could bring it (crazy!) won't be willing to kennel it, even if there were kennels handy.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:03 AM on August 16, 2011

I wouldn't even mention it this trip- it has the potential to cast a dark shadow over the entire trip. Rather, I would mention it the next time a trip is planned. Next time, tell them ahead of time the dog is not allowed.
posted by jmd82 at 10:26 AM on August 16, 2011

what your friends did was seriously uncool. and i say that as someone who has and loves my dog to death, and who would prefer to bring him everywhere i went. but i would never even think about bringing him into someone's house without first checking in advance if it was okay.

but given that there's nothing you can do about it, i would say this:

since you've already brought him, it's fine for him to stay this time and but in the future, i would really appreciate if you could check with me first. that said, i've really been looking forward to this visit—we're going to have a great time!
posted by violetk at 10:43 AM on August 16, 2011

I feel for you. This is an issue that comes up a lot in my family, for reasons I won't go into here.

But one way to handle this situation is to first accept that you can't get out of it. If you want to put them up (and clearly you do, they're good friends, you want to return the hospitality they have shown you, etc.) then you have to put their dog up, too. The dog is just part of the package.

Might there be consequences from the dog's visit? Piddle, shed fur, gnawed table legs? Sure. Would you rather the dog weren't there? Sure. But imagine if it was a human baby, with the diapers and the spit-up and the middle-of-the-night crying. Frankly, human babies can be quite a bit more disruptive and destructive.

If your friends had a people baby, you wouldn't dream of asking them to leave it at home. It would be understood that the baby would be coming with them, and that you (as host) might have to deal with some collateral damage after your friends left.

I'm not saying that a dog is equivalent to a people baby. I'm just saying that, in your role as gracious host, it may be helpful for you to mentally sort them into the same category.
posted by ErikaB at 11:09 AM on August 16, 2011

Best answer: If your friends had a people baby, you wouldn't dream of asking them to leave it at home. It would be understood that the baby would be coming with them, and that you (as host) might have to deal with some collateral damage after your friends left.

this is absolutely not a comparable situation. if those friends had a baby, you would know they had a baby and assume the baby would be coming with them. you would then be able to extend or not extend an invitation to them based on whether you want that baby in your house. to assume that everyone had a dog will be bringing their dog with them on overnight visits is not the automatic assumption it would be with a baby.
posted by violetk at 11:20 AM on August 16, 2011 [12 favorites]

I'm amazed at these responses -- every so often, I find myself so far apart from the apparent consensus that I begin to suspect that I am a madman or sociopathic or something. I do not think you need to take the dog into your house, nor am I comfortable with the kind of accommodation being sugested here.

As a dog owner and dog lover, I am appalled at the tacit assumption your guests have made. I have the most beautiful, awesome, and heart-stoppingly cute dog in the world -- only the truly stone hearted do not instantly fall in love with her (proof). And yet, one of the rules of dog ownership is that not everyone likes dogs, some are deeply afraid of them, some are highly allergic. You do not assume your dog will be well received. Your friends have failed at being good dog owners.

If you don't want a dog in your house, you should be able to say, "I'm sorry, but I can't have a dog in the house.". You do not need to explain or excuse this, it is put out there as a statement of fact. Explaining or excusing invites negotiation and conflict, as a few others have pointed out.

I do not agree with the majority here, that you are now in the inextricable position of having to accommodate the dog. I would be tempted to advocate a course of action like this: "Sorry, friend, but the dog cannot be in the house, at all. I wish I could have told you earlier, so we wouldn't be in this position, but here we are. Since the dog cannot stay in the house, what are the possible solutions?". Sure, the solutions are going to be suboptimal (stay in hotel, lock the dog in the car, turn around and drive back home), but there is a problem, the boundary conditions are set, and you must now work to figure out what you do next.

(On the other hand, you might be the kind of person who will put up with a lot of discomfort and inconvenience to make other people feel better or to avoid conlict, and you might agree to having the dog. In that case, I would say, "You didn't really bring a dog, did you? I really cannot take dogs in the house, but it looksl like we have no choice. Let's work together to make this liveable, but please do not do this to me again". <-- no sugar coating, complete honesty and disclosure, invitation to jointly resolve the problem).
posted by bumpkin at 1:18 PM on August 16, 2011 [6 favorites]

t0astie: please update us on what happens with your friends. Thanks!
posted by deborah at 2:28 PM on August 16, 2011

Response by poster: All fine. Treats offered, welcome given, dog confined to barracks in the flat. FWIW, puppy is pretty adorable – it’s a Maltese cross of some sort, very cuddly and not yappy. However, even cutest dog is still a dog and I’m uncomfortable with having it indoors in my house. Which includes the flat. Partner has had The Word and puppy will not be returning to the house or the flat after this visit. We did not make excuses – all of which, while creative are untrue. I wouldn’t say we’re not dog people or that I’m anxious, for example. Not only do these people know us well enough to know those things are untrue, but Ragged Richard is right – being specific about worries eg hair, not really a dog person, would have just set us up for negotiation. “But everyone loves Puppy! We’ll vacuum!” Not the point. We (my partner is with me on this) just don’t want a dog (even the sweetest, best trained little dog, which this one is) indoors in any part of our house. That has been, nicely, communicated.

Thanks to all the people who answered the question and provided gentle, tactful ways for us to navigate this. Thanks also to those who clued me in about the inappropriateness of a tiny indoor dog staying outside in winter. Much as I’m not thrilled to have it stay over, it’s not the puppy’s fault its owner is clueless and I would endure a great deal more inconvenience than a dog in our grannie flat before letting an animal suffer.

To those outraged by our guests behaviour and concerned about my ability to set boundaries – no need. Part of the problem was that my personal inclination is toward scorched earth, lines in the sand and firm words upfront. I am bit stumped when I want to take the gentle, relationship preserving approach. Can I just stress that I want to take a softer approach in this specific instance, as opposed to feeling obliged or pressured or uncomfortable to do so. It is my active, considered preference to take the high road and make them welcome despite their behaving in a way I can't imagine myself behaving under any circumstances. I must say though, all the outrage on my behalf was seriously cheering on quite a bad day (awful afternoon at work, last thing I needed was a guest dilemma), so thank you to you too!
posted by t0astie at 5:30 PM on August 16, 2011 [11 favorites]

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